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ELA 9: Introduction to Literature—Semester A

Reading, writing, and rhetoric.

Shmoop's ELA 9 course has been granted a-g certification, which means it has met the rigorous iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Courses and will now be honored as part of the requirements for admission into the University of California system.

Over the course of the next four years, you're going to learn everything there is to know about literature. But you have to start somewhere, right? And that's what ELA 9 is all about—and freshman year's much less painful when it's administered by a website.

In Semester A's standard-aligned lessons, you will

  • get your feet wet with language, grammar, essay-writing, short fiction, and poetry—and we'll even give you a taste of novels, including everyone's classic and contemporary literary sweethearts, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Book Thief. 
  • complete close-reading and big-picture analysis activities.
  • create unit projects that appeal to every type of learner, from shiny essays to collages and interpretive dances.

By the end of the course, you'll be a regular ol' bibliophile—or at the very least, a total Jabberwocky.

P.S.: ELA 9: Introduction to Literature is a two-semester course. You're looking at Semester A, but you can check out Semester B here.

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. The Long and Short of It

This unit will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about words—and then some. We'll be talking grammar, syntax, diction, and everything else you'll need to master the rest of ELA-hood. At the same time, we'll closely read classic short stories, examining their most basic but essential elements: plot, characterization, and narration, to name a few.

Unit 2. The Ars Poetica

We'll read plenty of classic poems in this unit, but the main focus will be on diction and analysis. How can just a few choice words, line breaks, or parallel structural repetitions reveal worlds about a speaker's perspective? Shmoop's got you covered.

Unit 3. Shmoop's Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is so beloved that it deserves its own unit. Through Harper Lee's classic, we'll think more about the novel form, starting basic through vocabulary and summary, and then use our fancy reading skills to analyze this timeless book. (Spoiler alert: the mockingbird is killed.)

Unit 4. Sometimes It's Okay to Steal a Book

In this unit, modern classic The Book Thief will help us dig deeper into the finer aspects of the novel after Unit 3 is under our belt. This World War II drama, narrated by death (yeah, you heard us) will be used to learn about motif, symbolism, allusion, and…oh yeah…themes.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 5: Hey, Boo

The pyramids in Egypt.
Eh, we like Freytag's better.

We begin in Maycomb, a sleepy little town in Alabama.

The good: our heroes, the Finches, have lived there for generations and feel right at home in their friendly, cozy community.

The bad: this friendly, cozy community isn't so friendly and cozy with black people. This is 1930s America, and racism is the name of the ugly game. Our unnamed narrator gives us all the deets we need to understand the conflict that's about to erupt between the anti-racist Atticus and his racist but beloved neighbors.

After that intro, it's time for a vigorous hike up Freytag's pyramid, right through the rising action and climax. But the ending? We aren't going to give it away, but let's just say that we titled this lesson "Hey, Boo" for a reason.

In this lesson, you'll finish reading the book, and you'll also get a chance to reflect upon and analyze the way Harper Lee constructs the plot—climactic final scene and all. There's a lot to "like."

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  • Credit Recovery Enabled
  • Course Length: 18 weeks
  • Grade Levels: 9
  • Course Type: Basic
  • Category:
    • English
    • Literature
  • Prerequisites:
    ELA 8: American Voices—Semester A
    ELA 8: American Voices—Semester B

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